Residents of Antioch may not vote for the change some are calling for, but at least they have options when the shuffling their deck around occurs with Mayor James Davis dropping down to the council race with two-current councilmembers trying to go for the mayor’s seat.
Paul Burgarino of the Contra Costa Times provided two solid overviews of both the Mayor and Council race this week that can begin the vetting process for Antioch residents.
Starting with the mayor’s race, there are four candidates vying for the top spot which will be vacated by James Davis who decided to run for city council.
According to Burgarino, the race will focus on public safety, blight and economic development, along with moving the city forward, as Antioch shows signs of starting to stabilize financially following years of sharp decline. All three political veterans pointed to their leadership skills as their reason for seeking the seat, and Leon said he shows a lot of initiative.
Let’s take a look at the four mayoral candidates shall we? Yes we shall.
Donald Freitas was mayor from 2000 to 2008 and is ready to get back into the game. He accused the city of “almost a bunker mentality” and wants to change the direction the city is headed. He also states, “Antioch is going to fundamentally change in a few years with an eight-lane highway, and yet there’s no plan to execute for the future.”
Now these are some fabulous statements and things people want to hear, but he also had his chance previously to turn Antioch around while he is partly responsible for why Antioch has become what it is today. With that said, he still has a great shot at winning.
Now this is where it gets interesting because both Wade Harper (top vote getter in 2010) and Gary Agopian are first time councilmembers and are at the mid-term of their term as councilmembers.
I’ll be honest, I like Harper and where he is headed with the idea of focusing on crime and blight as his law enforcement background should be helpful. I’d like to see more of how he will accomplish his goals stated publicly, but that should come in time.
Next we have Gary Agopian, who according to Burgarino, calls himself a “pragmatist” while claiming “my mantra is action versus talk”. While I like Agopian as a person and he is a joy to speak with, the only action I’ve seen out of Agopian has been his lips moving and fingers typing on the Take Back Antioch Facebook Group.
Finally, we have Michael Leon who I absolutely love his ideas on improving city communications and creating a brand while removing bureaucratic hurdles on business, however, jumping into the Mayor’s race with no political background is too big of a jump and should have gone for a city council seat first. He may be a player in the future, but not this year.
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With the mayor’s race out of the way, let’s move onto the city council race shall we? Yes we shall.
To put it bluntly, I really do not see how Mary Rocha can lose her seat. She is a wonderful lady and does so much within the community while working with the youth that she is a lock.
Burgarino provided a nice quote which speaks volumes about Rocha (and the rest of the council) that she spent so much time trying to save the city and keeping the doors to open. With that out of the way, she can get back to her task at hand.
Jim Davis running for council sure threw a lot of folks for a loop, but he is 100% right when he says his vote on council counts just as much as the mayors while being able to be “more of a driver” on issues. While some will blame him for the city’s near bankruptcy—revenue declined from $47 to 35 million—it can’t fully be blamed on him, but his predecessor had a partial role in that. I actually like the Mayor, but believe he is better suited to be on council as opposed to the face of Antioch.
The next three candidates need a lot of help if they want to knock Davis out of the number two spot.
Walter Ruehlig is leaving the School Board for a shot at council which I believe is a mistake. He lost me within the article by stating public safety and bringing back officers basically won’t happen until budget conditions improve—to me, while true, that’s a defeatist attitude and I want to back people who will find room in the budget or simply find a way to make it happen. He has some good ideas, but does not have enough bite to make it happen.
Noel Pinto is an interesting candidate. I sat down with him a month or so ago after he announced to learn more about him. He is all about doing the right things for Antioch with lots of ideas which Burgarino points out, but he is unknown. I want to cheer for him; however, he has very little experience in the political word and it shows. He could be a player if he invests time over the next two years getting his name out there to the residents of Antioch and making the proper connections.
Finally, we have Monica Wilson who I’ve come to know over the last year. She is a great lady and has a lot of positives to her. She should get a lot of support, but it will be tough to compete with the name recognition of Rocha and Davis which is where a 2-seat election hurts her. With that said, I couldn’t agree with her more when she says “I am tired of hearing the city doesn’t have any money” and she is looking to fix that by finding money—I dig that! She is also promoting community pride which is something many speak about, but she actually has done it.
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